5Rights Foundation Newsletter: April 2024

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Second US State adopts Age Appropriate Design Code

Following the example of California, Maryland legislators on the 6th of April unanimously passed the Maryland Kids Code, marking another major win for children’s privacy and safety in the US. First introduced with 5Rights support last year, the Maryland Kids Code went through both chambers of the General Assembly with strong support and only minor amendments, despite strong pushback by industry. Governor Wes Moore now has 30 days to sign it into law.

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Poki, a free online gaming platform, with more than 60 million users worldwide, has overhauled its UK service to comply with the Age Appropriate Design Code in response to a legal action by 5Rights. Poki’s redesign demonstrates that – pushed by regulation – companies can deliver privacy for children, without undermining their business viability, shutting children out, or impinging on adults’ experience.

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Best Interests of the Child in the Digital Environment – a new DFC report launched

Tech regulation and company policies are increasingly refering to ‘the best interests of the child’, but the concept is often misunderstood or misused, to the detriment of children’s wellbeing, and enjoyment of their full rights. This first report by the Digital Futures for Children 5Rights and LSE research centre looks at who, when and how to determine the best interests of the child in the digital environment, setting clear markers for policy-makers, and tech companies.

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EU adopts Pioneering AI Act; now must implement for children

The passing of the AI Act on the 12th of March represents a significant milestone for tech accountability, but its ability to deliver the changes that children deserve will depend on effective implementation. The Act bans any AI system that exploits the vulnerabilities of age and requires “high-risk” systems to take special measures to account for children and their rights with detailed risk management processes. In the two years before the Act’s full entry into force, we look to the EU executive to develop clear and robust guidelines for the Act’s implementation for children.

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Time for a Code of Practice for tech used in schools

5Rights and the Digital Futures for Children (DFC) centre are supporting an amendment to the UK Data Bill introduced by our Chair Baroness Kidron calling for a Code of Practice for education technology. Today children’s rights are being widely abused by EdTech providers with little evidence of learning benefits, and schools and children are powerless. The amendment, reflecting research from the DFC and our Blueprint for Education Data, calls for a Code and certification scheme to support schools, build trust in EdTech, and ensure children benefit.

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Research, Reports, and Findings

🗺️ “Annual Report 2023” In 2023 the INHOPE Network processed over 780,000 reports of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). They’ve examined these statistical insights, shedding light on the scale of CSAM worldwide. INHOPE

🇬🇧 “UK Age-Appropriate Design Code Impact Assessment” This review highlights the changes made by tech companies that were likely catalysed by the AADC and how they have reacted publically and legally. Children and Screens

🇪🇸 “Los riesgos se solapan para los menores en internet: el 16.5% sufre a la vez grooming, abuso en pareja y ciberacoso” Online risks for children are not isolated instances. This study identifies correlations between minors suffering from grooming, partner abuse and cyberbullying. International University of La Rioja

🇬🇧 “Encountering violent online content starts at primary school” Children are telling Ofcom that viewing violent content is an ‘unavoidable’ part of their online experience. Peer pressure, recommender algorithms, group messaging, and a lack of trust in the reporting mechanism continue to fuel its permeation. Ofcom

Upcoming Events

*️⃣ Demystifying Age-Assurance to Protect Children Online
17th April 2024 - European Parliament, Brussels

5Rights and the European Parliament Child Rights Intergroup will co-host an event bringing together policy-makers, experts and civil society to discuss the path forward towards privacy-preserving, proportionate and effective age assurance.

*️⃣ Panel on AI and Children’s Privacy: Challenges and Regulatory Approaches at CPDP
22nd to 24th May 2024 11:45 to 13:00 (CEST)
- Brussels, Belgium. Register here

5Rights will host an expert panel discussion at the 17th International Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference, aiming at feeding best practices and lessons learned regarding children’s data protection into regulatory initiatives for AI.

*️⃣ Tech Tantrums - when tech meets humanity
5th June 2024 18:30 to 20:00 (GMT)
- Old Theatre, Old Building, London, UK. More information

5Rights Chair and founder Baroness Beeban Kidron will deliver a public lecture setting out why the issues around AI must not be left to tech experts and unaccountable corporations. Hosted by the Digital Futures for Children (DFC) centre at the LSE, the hybrid event will be chaired by Professor Sonia Livingstone.

🔔 Global Youth Summit on Digital Rights
13th to 15th April 2024 - Buenos Aires, Argentina (and online). More information

An initiative of Amnesty International, this three-day summit will provide an opportunity for young people to discuss their rights, learn about possible solutions, propose actions and strategies, and dream about what the future of digital technologies could look like. Nidhi, one of our Youth Ambassadors, will be representing 5Rights, engaging with peers and professionals and interviewing one of the Summit guests for our youth-led podcast: Youth Voice.

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